It’s your senior year of college. You’ve just started student teaching and have an endless list of lessons to plan, materials to make, forms to fill out. And while you are so mentally engulfed by the moment, every once in a while there is a flicker of a reminder that next year at this time you “need” to have a “real” teaching job of your very own. Take a deep breath and read on for my top 10 tips for landing that first teaching job.
1. Digital presence is everything.
Employers will meet you virtually long before they meet you physically and that first impression is key. Keep the personal private and stay up to date with the professional. In the end, teacher Twitter connections may just be what lands you that initial interview...it did for me!
2. Do your research.
Every school has a unique culture and atmosphere. Do your research before applying and interviewing and key into those unique characteristics when applying and interviewing.
3. Bring a physical portfolio along to interviews with your digital one.
Even if your digital portfolio is outstanding, still cultivate a physical one. It does not have to be as detailed with reflections as your digital one...just include things like your transcript, letters of recommendation, pictures of you teaching, and a sample lesson plan.
4. Wear a suit.
No matter what anyone else tells you, wearing a suit shows respect and makes you stand out.
5. Be humbly confident.
Walk in with a smile on your face and lend a firm handshake.
6. Talk about what you have done, not what you “would” do.
Even if it was a field experience or not even your own idea, take ownership of your teaching experience. Have 3-4 anecdotes of times you encountered and overcame a challenge in teaching ready to share in response to questions you will be asked.
7. Have THOUGHTFUL questions ready.
Your questions should reflect your research and help you gain insight into what your role would look like within the community of the school and district.
8. Keep a healthy perspective.
Sometimes they have decided on a candidate long before you even interview. Sometimes you simply don’t fit the role they need filled. Any interview is good experience. Don’t compare your job search to anyone else's.
9. After an interview, send a thank you note.
10. It’s okay to say no.
I was offered the first full time job I interviewed for. It was a great job at a great school, but I just didn’t feel right about it. So many people thought I was crazy for turning it down. I went on to turning down quite a few more offers before finally accepting the position I’m in now, and I couldn’t be happier about my decisions. Because the thing is, the job search is a two way street: They need to be as good of a fit for you as you are for them. And if no one else in your life is, I am giving you permission to say no to an offer.
The right job will come in the right time…it may just not be in your ideal time frame. Relax and enjoy the moment, a time of lasts before you move on to a season of firsts. And once you do accept that job, celebrate and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!